Alone With You Too
Feeling alone is a crippling thing. Even though we are surrounded by millions, even, billions of people, loneliness has become a worldwide affliction.
Apparently, some 1 in 10 people frequently feel distressingly lonely, while half believe they are becoming lonelier. While there may be conjecture about the figures, it’s obvious too many people feel alone and the problem isn’t easing.
Perhaps it’s amplified by the impact of many folk living alone? Or, maybe it’s because aspects of belonging and family life have been so dramatically eroded. The idea that millions of people declare TV is their chief form of “company” is a telling phenomenon.
We can be cheek by jowl to others in proximity. But if we don’t connect, we may as well be living alone on a desert island with nothing but our shadow for company.
Having so much to distract us, and so many families barely communicating, we’re making a toxic brew. Without anchor points, modern life promotes loneliness and all who finds themselves alone learn the painful truth. It’s not socially acceptable to be distressed. Instead, we are expected to suffer in silence.
In sharing ideas about creating a happy life, I believe it’s important to consider life’s struggles too. Besides, unless happiness can stand the rigors of difficulty, it’s definitely not going to go the distance. For those feeling alone and lonely, finding a liveable form of happiness is especially relevant.
While being free to be alone to our own devices is a happy experience in measured doses, the kind of loneliness that comes from prolonged feelings of being alone and alienated is an unhealthy state with negative consequences.
With traditional community structures giving way to highly individualised lifestyles, it’s easy to lose a sense of belonging. Being alone in this big, wide world and feeling like you don’t belong anywhere is undeniably distressing. Worse, it provides the backdrop for major illness, loss of identity, and sometimes, self-destruction.
Thankfully, feeling alone and isolated is highly treatable. Simplistically, the cure for loneliness is to just add people and mix. But, of course, it’s more complicated than that. People need structures to make social engagement feel right. So that it feels natural to talk to a stranger and share your feelings in a respectful way.
Being highly social beings, we thrive on society. We need an encouraging voice or two in our life, plus the intimacy of speaking freely with people we care about. To be compelled to live alone and denied social connection goes against our nature. So, it’s high time we snapped out of alienating habits.
Here then are 5 tips for breaking free from loneliness. They might not specifically relate to every situation. But chances are some will prove useful:
- Help them next door. Your neighbours are a great place to start connecting with. Say hello, do something kind, and patiently remain friendly. When people work out that you care, friendships can develop.
- Write letters. Yes, in this day of hi-tech idea transmission, letters are a wondrous thing to receive. Write about anything, but always be encouraging.
- Find someone worse off to help. No matter how bad you feel, somewhere, someone else will be feeling even worse. Discipline yourself to help and do it regularly. If you’re unsure how, contact some charities. Most likely, they’ll be glad you called.
- Give. Regardless whether you have a little or a lot, give something. People notice you when you do.
- Look after children and pets. WC Fields was wrong. Even when they drive you crazy, children and animals have a vital influence on your life. Care for them enough and it’s hard to feel alone.
When someone tells me they’re feeling desperately alone I say, take action. Don’t wait for someone to come, and resist the tendency of focusing on your self. It’s hard to feel lonely when you’re busy doing what you believe in. So do whatever you can to have impact. The more we contribute to the lives of those around us, the less alone we seem, and happily, the richer life becomes.
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